Joy comes as a result of a right relationship with God. According to the Holman Bible Dictionary joy is a state of delight and well-being that results from knowing and serving God. The Bible calls it a fruit of the Spirit. Since it is a fruit of the Spirit, we know that joy is a quality of God. God rejoiced over His creation. (Psalm 104:31) He also talks about His intent for His people to have joy in Isaiah 65:18-19. "But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create, for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy. I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people..." In the parable of The Lost Son we see that one of God's greatest joys comes from the repentance of one sinner. (Luke 15:11-32) And, can we imagine the great joy that Father God felt when Jesus was born on earth? The angels expressed this joy to the shepherds: "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people." (Luke 2:10) Joy itself was manifest on earth in Jesus.
When we have the fruit of joy another important characteristic of God will manifest--strength! There are unique times on the Jewish calendar when it is easier to gain these qualities. We are in that time frame right now--the month of Adar II. Adar means strength, and we are in a leap year where there are two Adars--I and II--a double portion. Every three years an additional Adar month is added to the calendar so that the lunar months stay in sync with the solar calendar. God wants us to end the year with strength so that we can leap into the New Year fully refreshed and ready to receive His blessings. And how do we obtain strength? "...The joy of the Lord is your strength." (Nehemiah 8:10)
Adar is meant to be a time when we celebrate God's provision that builds up both our strength and joy. The enemy of our souls would like to steal our joy so that we cannot overcome him and enthusiastically enter the New Year ready to receive the new things that God is doing in our lives. We must develop our war strategies, putting on a "...garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair..." (Isaiah 61:3) Queen Esther modeled this for us when she overcame evil Haman's plan to annihilate all the Jews by implementing a strategy that won the king's heart so that he reversed a decree to kill her people. Every year since then the Jews celebrate this victory on the 14th and 15th of Adar. It is known as the "time when the Jews got relief from their enemies, and as the month when their sorrow was turned into joy and their mourning into a day of celebration..." (Esther 9:22) These days of celebration are called Purim which is the plural of "lot" because this is how the day was chosen to attack the Jews.
Think about how you feel when you are overflowing with joy! Don't you feel like you could take on the entire world? Worry is out of your mind, confidence directs your steps and strength wells up. 1 Chronicles 16:27 confirms where we find strength and joy: "Splendor and majesty are before Him; strength and joy in His dwelling place." King David understood where His strength and joy came from. "Praise be to the Lord for He has heard my cry for mercy. The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy, and I will give thanks to Him in song. The Lord is the strength of His people..." (Psalm 28:6-8) Asaph, a writer of several of the Psalms realized the power in expressing joy. "Sing for joy to God our strength; shout aloud to the God of Jacob!" (Psalm 81:1)
Do you see the interesting dynamic between joy and strength? They build upon one another. Joy generates strength and strength generates more joy. Jesus shows us how joy brings strength, and is written about in Hebrews 12:2. "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith; who for the joy set before Him endured the Cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." I think the joy set before Jesus was His knowledge that His sacrifice would bring many to salvation and that He would please His father. It was the joy He had that gave Him the strength to endure the pain and agony of the Cross. Once His sacrifice was accomplished His joy became even greater. So, let’s keep our eyes on Jesus, strengthen our relationship with Him and watch as both joy and strength increase.
Joan E. Mathias